What's another 500 miles when
you're already traveling on mission?
By John Hall
Texas Baptist Communications
A prayer request led a team of Mission Service Corps volunteers to take a 500-mile trip to a small-town church en route to their assignment. But getting there was only the beginning of their detour.
The team of four couples was assigned to build a mission house near the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists in Alberta, but Jean Holliman found a prayer request for a handicapped ramp that drew them 500 miles away to a small church in British Columbia.
|"We work so hard to get people to come to church. And here's a place they want to come, and they can't get in." |
The prayer request from Salmo Baptist Church detailed a need for a ramp to help older and disabled people more easily enter the church. Several older residents said they wanted to come to the church but were unable to make the climb to get in the door.
“It broke my heart,” Holliman said. “We work so hard to get people to come to church. And here's a place they want to come, and they can't get in.”
The volunteers agreed to answer the call and informed the church they were coming. Shortly after committing to the project, Holliman discovered the church lacked the funds to back the work. But that did not stop the team.
Holliman's home church, First Baptist Church in Sanger, and three other churches donated $4,400 in Canadian currency to the effort. An architect in the church redesigned the ramp to save several thousand dollars. Soon, the project had the green light, and the couples were on their way.
When the building team arrived, they noticed more construction was needed than a ramp. The church, consisting of combined mobile homes, had large cracks on the walls. The interior of the church was dark and in need of decorating.
Undaunted, the Mission Service Corps volunteers went to work. The men constructed the ramp and filled in the gaps in the church walls while the women spruced up the sanctuary, foyer and nursery.
“When we got through, it looked so good,” Holliman said. “It was shining from top to bottom. They couldn't believe it.”
Seeing the results of the volunteer labor encouraged the congregation and opened their minds to new ministry possibilities, said Pastor Gerald Hutchman. “I was excited for the people to see that. They had no idea there were people who would do that.”
As the team was packing up and talking about the project, Hutchman asked them to stay a couple more days and speak to the church's youth group. The youth were largely unchurched kids, and a number of them have parents who are practicing witches in the Wiccan religion.
In the weeks before the workers' arrival, the youth were pressing church leaders to prove to them God was real.
“We were in the process of putting together a youth program because kids in this town got nothing,” Hutchman said. “And a lot of them came. They were the roughest kids in town.”
The volunteers prayed about the invitation and soon accepted the challenge. They shared personal experiences of God's work. Several described their salvation experiences.
The youth were attentive throughout the nearly two-hour presentation, the pastor reported, and one of them led a prayer to close the service.
“When that happened, there's no doubt God was in it,” Hutchman said. “It was awesome to see. That was the first time we saw those kids react to anything we've told them.”
The volunteer team left shortly after the service. Since then, however, six youth have made professions of faith in Christ and are growing spiritually, Hutchman said.
The Mission Service Corps workers drove on to the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary, where they are building a mission house. However, the fruits of a 500-mile detour remain fresh in their minds, Holliman emphasized.
“Sometimes God amazes me,” she said. “You go for one reason, and he uses you for another.”